ABC Blog

When the Heat Is Gone, Rodents Arrive

As temperatures begin to drop, more homeowners begin to see signs of rodents within their homes. This is no coincidence. Rats and mice have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, and they choose to inhabit our homes because of the warmth, shelter and food that we inadvertently provide. During the winter, a house can provide rodents with protection against the elements.

In the summer months, rodents may spend more time outside, especially if there are gardens to raid or other plant-based food sources. Once autumn arrives, however, they will withdraw to a warmer area that’s protected from ice and snow. They might move to the shelter of a porch, crawl space, attic or an out-of-the-way corner of your home.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can discourage these unwanted guests from wintering in your home:

Seal off any cracks and crevices that might provide easy access to your home. Bear in … Read Full Post »

The Worst Rodent Infestations in History

roof rats

Rodents have lived alongside humans since the earliest days of civilization, and they continue to be a significant pest. Rats and mice eat human food and contaminate the house with their droppings. They are also very destructive and can chew through nearly anything, including a house’s walls and foundation. Although rodents are found anywhere humans live, a few places have had historically awful infestations. Here are some of the worst rodent infestations in history:

Medieval Europe

During the Crusades, Asian black rats began migrating into Europe in ever-increasing numbers. They brought along the fleas that carried the bubonic plague, which devastated Europe. Their numbers became so overwhelming that the profession of rat-catching had to be invented to deal with them.


When explorers began traveling to Australia, they inadvertently brought mice on their ships. The mice, facing few natural predators and plenty of easy food, began to reproduce rapidly, and to this day, they … Read Full Post »

Roof Rats Bigger Threat to Austin Homes than Termites

roof rats

For years, termites were the number one threat to homes in Austin. Recently, they’ve been eclipsed by roof rats, which have begun to invade the city and are now present throughout the Austin metro area. These rodents dwell in high spaces, like trees and rafters, and build nests and social colonies there.

Although roof rats are native to Texas, they were not commonly seen within the city until recently. They have traditionally been seen in rural areas. Recent weather changes have driven them away from their natural habitat, however, and the change seems to be permanent.

Like all rats, roof rats reproduce quickly and can be extremely destructive. They’re responsible for structural damage as they chew through the wood and insulation of a home. They can also invade pantries and cupboards and will cause food to spoil or become contaminated.

These rodents arrived in the city during the 2011 drought, which caused many … Read Full Post »

Top 5 Ways to Keep Raccoons Away

Though they are often admired for their ability to pilfer food from garbage cans in the dead of night, raccoons can be quite dangerous. They are known to spread disease, injure family pets and inflict property damage that can be expensive. However, these ingenious critters can be kept far away from family residences with the following five tips.

1. Secure All Trash Receptacles

Raccoons are widely known for their talent. For example, sliding aside a partially open garbage can lid is quite easily accomplished. For this reason, property owners will want to secure all trash receptacles fully. Kitchen garbage cans and other interior food sources should also be sealed—plenty of verified stories of raccoons entering homes through pet doors and gobbling up unsecured food waste.

2. Reduce Nesting Areas

Because raccoons do not build their dens, they search for places to raise a family. Attics, basements, crawlspaces, and any other nooks and crannies that … Read Full Post »

The Woodpecker: Your Home’s Fine Feathered Enemy

If you’re a nature lover, you might enjoy a woodpecker’s soft, distant tapping while you take a leisurely mid-morning stroll through the woods. However, when you’re sound asleep at the crack of dawn and awakened by a relentless, unbelievably loud hammering on your wood-sided house, it probably doesn’t have the same heart-warming effect. As much as you might fantasize about running outside in your bathrobe and knocking the bird off the side of your humble abode with the gentle nudge of a pressure washer, you wouldn’t want to harm such a beautiful creature. Besides, you can’t. They’re protected by federal law.

Doesn’t All that Pecking Give Them a Headache?

Woodpeckers have developed special physical features that protect them from harm while using their bills as jackhammers. Their brains are surrounded by extra cushioning, and they have reinforced skulls to distribute the force of repeated impact. Unfortunately, our heads contain nothing to protect … Read Full Post »

The Marsupial, The Myth, The Legend: The Opossum

If you’re a longtime resident of Austin, you’ve probably seen your fair share of opossums. At first glance, these silvery, pointy-nosed scavengers don’t seem like anything special. In truth, opossums are far from ordinary; they have many unusual features and a rich and fascinating history full of myth and legend.

Interesting Opossum Facts

Here are some unusual facts you may not have known about the everyday opossum:

  • An opossum can “play dead” for up to four hours when it feels threatened, but contrary to popular belief, the reaction is actually involuntary.
  • Opossums are immune to rattlesnake venom and they often eat the rattlers that dare to strike.
  • Although commonly mistaken for a rodent, the opossum is a marsupial and it’s the only one found in North America.
  • Like a kangaroo, the mother opossum carries her young in her pouch.
  • Opossums have opposable thumbs on their hind feet. They use the digits to grasp and climb. They also … Read Full Post »

Rats in Hats

Let’s be honest: rats don’t always have the best reputation. They’ve been unfairly linked to smelly alleyways and unwanted infestations, but that may be a hasty judgment that’s best reserved for rats of the un-fancy kind. Many consider these friendly and highly-intelligent rodents treasured pets, and in some instances, they can actually be quite stylish.

Although the idea of dressing up a rat may be challenging for some people to grasp (not unlike the idea of dying a miniature poodle pink), it’s not as uncommon as you would think. As pet fashion designer Ada Nieves explains, “The rats look very cute and seem to like wearing [outfits]. Rats are very popular these days and the owners love to dress them up.”


Sometimes, you have to let your rat put on a hat and strut down the runway.

Many people believe that rats are naturally dirty creatures, but these balls of fluff are exceptionally clean … Read Full Post »

Five Ways a Hidden Rodent Infestation Can Impact Your Home—and Your Pocketbook!

damage caused by rats

Pest control is often the most unwelcome of all the unexpected costs that homeowners face. Pests enter your property looking for food and shelter and can usually stay hidden for long periods. Rodents, in particular, are experts in squeezing through small openings, and just one female rat can have up to 15,000 babies in just one year! If you have an infestation, damage caused by rats and mice could cost you thousands of dollars or more to fix, not to mention the time and hassle of caring for the problem.

Damage Caused By Rats and Mice

Rodent dens that go unnoticed are more expensive and dangerous to remove than infestations that are uncovered quickly. Crawl spaces, attics, and voids surrounding water pipes are prime real estate for rodents seeking a new home. Places that homeowners don’t inspect often are more likely to harbor unnoticed residents. Here are a few costly problems that … Read Full Post »

Pests in the Attic

Animals and other urban wildlife are always looking for places to breed, store food and hide from predators. Unfortunately, some creatures may choose to take up residence in your attic. They use vents and other small openings to gain entry. Some of them stay inside the attic; others leave during the night to search for food.

An assortment of pests live in attics. They include various insects, rodents, birds and bats. Some raccoons and opossums also appreciate the shelter that an attic provides. Most of these creatures are nocturnal and can carry small parasites, such as fleas and ticks.

Pests often damage the attic and eventually harm other parts of the home. Rodents may chew on telephone or electrical wires. Some animals destroy insulation or air ducts. Raccoons can even tear holes through the roof. This kind of destruction may cause major water leaks or a fire.

Pests can also defecate and urinate … Read Full Post »

The Relationship Between Plumbing and Pests

Most homeowners are unaware of the association between plumbing and pests, but the fact is that the two are intertwined. Problems with a home’s plumbing can attract certain types of pests. Not to mention, the presence of pests in the plumbing of a home can cause some serious plumbing issues. Lowe’s notes that pests ranging from rodents to snakes can find their way into the plumbing of a building and wreak havoc.

How Do Plumbing Problems Attract Pests?

When a home has leaky plumbing, pests may move in because they detect a water source and are attracted to the area where the leak originates. Homeowners should be aware that standing water attracts pests including mosquitoes, so having a simple leak can lead to a serious pest problem in your home.

Pests that eat wood are particularly interested in moist wood because it is easier for them to chew, and they rely on moisture … Read Full Post »